If you write a blog you’ve probably had the feeling I have this morning: want to react to an article – but I already did just that, a month ago. Nevertheless, TechRepublic’s piece on Sanity check: Can tiny Zoho beat Microsoft and Google in online office apps? is a good one, worth another go at the subject.
Executive Editor Jason Hiner is impressed by the Zoho Suite:
“It’s impressive that Zoho has created a broad fleet of full-featured online apps in a short period of time, but just as significant is the fact that it has done it without sacrificing simplicity and usability. That points to software that is well-conceived and well-developed.”
Jason finds that almost all of Zoho’s apps have the best feature set in their class of online apps, and he is not alone: see the MIT Technology Review, Gartner and countless blogs in agreement. He also points to potential weaknesses:
- business model
- security (of not just Zoho, but online apps in general)
- full offline capability.
It’s good to see Zoho’s Raju Vegesna acknowledge these, and stating they are working on them. In the past 18 months Zoho has proven that when they say “we’re working on it”, they better be taken seriously.
In taking on Microsoft and Google in the office application arena, Zoho sees itself in the same mold as Microsoft taking on IBM in PCs in the early 1980s and Google taking on Microsoft and Yahoo in search in the past decade. It would be easy to wave off Zoho as a bug destined to be squashed, but judging by the quality of what Zoho has created so far, I wouldn’t count it out.
A very nice review, but let’s have a real sanity check: the question isn’t whether tiny Zoho can beat Microsoft and Google, but whether it needs to beat them at all. I don’t think so.
This is not a winner-take-it-all, zero-sum game: all players, including Google and Zoho are creating a new, emerging market. It’s not about slicing the pie yet, it’s about making sure the pie will be huge – and Google’s brand is the best guarantee to achieving that. Little Zoho can be a tremendously successful business being second to Google. There will always be room for a second .. third… perhaps fourth. Data privacy, the quality of the products, better service, or just having a choice – there will always be reasons for customers to opt for a non-Google solution.
The above is a quote from my earlier post, The Web Office Smackdown – Why It Does Not Matter, which covers further details, including Zoho’s small business apps, beyond the scope of Office. For a better understanding of what Zoho is all about, I warmly recommend Sramana Mitra’s interview series with Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu.